U.S. stock futures pointed to modest gains for Wall Street on Wednesday, due as investors watch to see if Dow industrials can close above 18,000 and if oil prices can stay above $50 a barrel. Updates on available jobs and crude oil supply in the U.S. will also be in focus.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 28 points, or 0.2%, at 17,961, and futures for the S&P 500 picked up 3.45 points, or 0.2%, at 2,113.75. Futures for the Nasdaq Composite were higher by 6.25 points, or 0.1%, at 4,520.50.
On Wall Street Tuesday, the Dow industrials edged up 0.1% and briefly topped 18,000 for the first time since April. The S&P 500 index finished up 0.1%, enough to allow the index to mark its best close in nearly 10 months, at 2,112.13. That index is less than 1% off its record of 2,130.82, set May 21, 2015. The Nasdaq Composite Index on Tuesday shed 0.1%, weighed on by biotech shares.
"Stocks ... squeezed out a new high for the year yesterday, but it has been a slow crawl higher in the wake of last Friday's U.S. Employment Report and the subsequent dovish tone to [Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet] Yellen's speech on Monday," said Simon Smith, chief economist at FxPro, in a note. "Once again, this demonstrates the waning impact that low rates and monetary policy in general is having on stocks and asset markets in general," he added.
Energy stocks, which helped nudge the S&P 500 higher, will be back in focus Wednesday as oil prices traded above $50 a barrel. Brent crude was above $52 a barrel ahead of Wall Street's open. West Texas Intermediate futures on Tuesday settled at their highest since July.
The Energy Information Administration is expected to release its weekly U.S. crude supply report at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Ahead of that report, data showed crude imports into China rose 39% in May from the year-ago period, in part on demand from privately owned refineries. "This extra demand has boosted not only the price of oil, but also optimism that the world's second- largest oil consumer may be arresting its economic downturn -- something which would be supportive for oil and other commodities," said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive at wealth-management firm Sun Global Investments, in a note.